When Kenneth Amassah came to the UK to study, at the age of 25, he believed he would soon return home to Ghana.
Looking back the 42-year-old, who now works for Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service (NFRS), explained that his intention never was to stay.
He recalled: “When I came here to the UK, it was such a completely new environment. Everything was new. It felt like being a new-born baby starting off here. It wasn’t originally my intention to come and stay. My intention was to come and study. What started it off was my interest in the subject of Computing.”
Having initially undertaken a remote course with the City of London College, Kenneth discovered he had a flair for the subject and was encouraged to continue his computing studies in the UK.
After completing the advance level of his course, he opted to join the British Army with the intention of moving on to a degree course later, which he did after the Army.
His time in the Army included a tour to Iraq. He left almost five years later and decided to settle in the UK because he had started a family.
It was in 2017 he joined the Fire Service as a Risk Planning Technician with NFRS. This vital role means that firefighters are provided with a database of important information about the layout and risk factors at large commercial properties across Northamptonshire.
Kenneth has now made England his home and feels he holds a worthwhile and important role within NFRS. He was keen to support Black History Month by reflecting back on his experiences in the UK.
He acknowledges that racism and discrimination exist in different forms in the UK and although he admits to having experienced many forms of discrimination indirectly over the years, dating back to when he first came to the UK, he said he prefers rather to focus on the positives of his story.
He said: “It is important to highlight the good stuff as well. We need to make people aware that it isn’t all bad. I have a job and it is a good one.
“But I know not everyone has the same experience. I know a lot of people of my age and background who are doing different jobs. For example I know a doctor from my country who is doing a cleaning job, for whatever reason.
“There are people who have experienced types of discrimination and there could be so many factors behind that.
He continued: “I have friends who have talked about people walking into them and saying ‘go back to your own country’ or who have suffered different kinds of racial abuse. I haven’t experienced any of that.”
Kenneth’s experience of living in Northamptonshire and working for NFRS has been a positive one and one in which he feels like his work is important and valued.
“Our Chief Fire Officer came to the office to say hello to us and I really appreciated that, things like that make you feel valued in so many ways.”
“In terms of my own experience, I feel valued. I wanted to share that for Black History Month. Everyone has a different experience and I am here working for NFRS and doing important work for the Service.”